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Overview of the presidential election process

The process to elect a president takes almost two years. Learn the steps that result in the election of a U.S. president.

When is the next presidential election?

An election for president of the United States happens every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The next presidential election will be November 5, 2024.

What is the typical presidential election cycle?

The presidential election process follows a typical cycle:

Presidential Election Cycle Table
Time of the yearEvent
Spring of the year before an electionCandidates register with the Federal Election Commission to run for president. While there is no federal deadline to register, there are other requirements. Learn about registering as a presidential candidate.
Spring of the year before an electionCandidates announce their intentions to run.
Summer of the year before an election through spring of the election yearPrimary and caucus debates take place.
January to June of election yearStates and parties hold presidential primaries and caucuses. Find out more about primaries and caucuses.
July to early SeptemberParties hold nominating conventions to choose their presidential candidates. Just before or during the convention, the presidential candidate announces their vice presidential running mate. Read more about the conventions.
September and OctoberCandidates participate in presidential debates.
Early NovemberElection Day is the first Tuesday after the first Monday. Find out about the presidential general election.
DecemberElectors cast their votes for president in the Electoral College. Learn about the Electoral College process.
Early January of the next calendar yearCongress counts the electoral votes.
January 20Presidential Inauguration Day

For an in-depth look at the federal election process in the U.S., read USA In Brief: ELECTIONS.

LAST UPDATED: March 14, 2024


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